March 10, 2013
By Morgan Bailey, U-M Public & Media Relations
Hours before the anticipated tipoff between the Indiana Hoosiers and Michigan Wolverines, Maize and Blue fans were lined up outside of Crisler Center in a line that extended well beyond the parking lot and around the Big House. The students were back on campus Sunday afternoon (March 10) after being on spring break for the past week, and the most eager fans camped outside of Crisler, beginning Saturday night (March 9).
The support for the basketball team only magnified once all of the fans piled inside, creating one of the loudest atmospheres that Michigan followers have experienced inside Crisler. The crowd of 12,693 people was the 15th time this season that a home game has been sold out, reflecting the best ticket since the 1985-86 season.
Sunday's game was not only the final regular-season game of the year, but it also marked the last time that the senior players suited up for a game at Crisler Center. In their freshman year at Michigan (2009-10), now-senior players Eso Akunne, Josh Bartelstein, Blake McLimans, Corey Person, Matt Vogrich, and the rest of the Wolverines posted a 15-17 record. That was the last time those players would experience a losing season, as they went on to improve Michigan's record each year they were on the roster. In their sophomore campaign (2010-11) they finished 21-14, 24-10 as juniors (2011-12), and in their final year, the seniors have helped the Wolverines to a 25-6 mark at the end of regular-season play -- already posting the most wins under head coach John Beilein. Among all of the things that change from one season to the next, the one thing that has stayed consistent for the seniors has been the support they have received from the Michigan fans.
"The fans have been incredible," senior captain Josh Bartelstein remarked. "They create such a great home-court advantage for us. Some of my best memories at Michigan were beating Michigan State and Ohio State at home this year; seeing how loud the crowds were and how happy they were after the game. Singing the fight song with the fans and experiencing that with them is incredible. The fans are what make a lot of this worth it, and there is truly nothing like a Michigan fan."
"It was a great atmosphere tonight," Matt Vogrich commented. "I've loved Crisler for four years, loved Michigan, loved Michigan basketball. The fans have been great; we sold out almost every home game this year, which was unbelievable. It was just a great atmosphere for our last game that the fans provided, and we thank them for it."
Following the game, the seniors had a moment to reflect on their time at Michigan and what it meant to them to play their final game at Crisler.
"It's unbelievable that this was the last home game," Bartelstein said. "It is really special to play for this university and this basketball program. Seeing all of the fans cheering for you and your teammates, clapping and your coaches' support -- it's the reason that we all came here and it has been truly worth it."
"There are a lot of memories here," said fifth-year senior Corey Person. "There have been so many priceless games over the five years that I've been here. When I think about it being my last night here, it makes me think about my first night walking in here five years ago. There are a lot of memories that I think about along the way."
The Wolverines will now shift their attention to the Big Ten Tournament (March 14-17) in Chicago, Ill., and the NCAA Tournament the following week